Are you thinking of installing Brazilian walnut flooring in your home? It could be one of the best decisions you can make, provided you armed yourself with all the relevant info regarding this flooring material before starting the installation process to make the soundest decision and avoid mistakes along the way.
What is Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Brazilian walnut flooring is one of the most sought after kinds of hardwood flooring mainly designed for the kitchen, although it is also not a bad idea for other parts of your home.
Many prefer it to the traditional black walnut variation as Brazilian walnut boasts of a higher hardness rating. It is even harder than oak by up to three times. It is best to install it in the kitchen where rugged and moist usage is imminent.
What is good about it is that it is not prone to getting scratches and dents, making it perfect for homes with pets. It also has an immense denseness, which makes it resistant to fire, rot, insects and mold.
Benefits of Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Strong and Sturdy
The strength and durability of this floor can be attributed to its high hardness rating. As a matter of fact, it scored more than 3,500 in a legitimate hardness test. This proves that it is one of the hardest types of wood worldwide. The extreme hardness significantly enhances its strength and durability.
It makes it long-lasting as it further heightens its resistance to all forms of damage compared to other hardwood variations. The hardness can also be attributed to the amazing density it has.
This lessens its vulnerability to scratches and dents, making it perfect for outdoor and high-traffic areas.
Exotically Pleasing to the Eyes
Brazilian walnut flooring is an attractive material that many find irresistible. What’s good about its appeal is that it is unique and out of the ordinary, allowing it to showcase an exotic appeal. This makes it more unique from other attractive types of wood, like hickory, maple and oak.
Another advantage is that it can resist water and moisture. It is because of its incredible denseness, making it possible for moisture to penetrate it more gradually in comparison to softer wood species.
The fantastic moisture-resistant capability is one reason why many prefer it for outdoor decking.
This benefit also makes it suitable for various locations since you no longer have to worry about using a steam mop to sanitize it or damp mopping it. In other words, you no longer have to invest in an expensive hardwood steam mop to disinfect your flooring if you use Brazilian walnut for its primary material.
Pros and Cons of Brazilian Walnut Flooring
You can enjoy a lot more rewarding benefits from using Brazilian walnut flooring. However, be aware of some of its downsides so you can better decide if it is indeed the safest choice for you. In this section, we will discuss some pros and cons of this famous flooring material:
Some wood species have a hard time resisting fire but this is not the case with Brazilian walnut. It is because this type of wood has densely packed fibers that make it as fire-resistant as steel and concrete. Aside from being densely packed, the fibers are also very heavy in the sense that this is the only wood species that has zero risks of floating.
Safe to Install on Radiant Heat
This benefit is made possible with the proven heat-resistance and stability of the material. Yes, other hardwoods are also compatible with radiant heating systems but installing them requires extra prep work. This is not the case with walnut as you can install it directly over the system even if you do not add coatings.
Can Be Refinished
Another fantastic benefit is that you can refinish it, making it as long-lasting as possible. While you can repair some hardwoods once they incur damages or fade, you can’t refinish them many times without diminishing their original feel and look.
With Brazilian flooring, you do not have to worry about that because it can retain its original condition by taking care of and refurbishing it from time to time.
This flooring is also a fantastic choice because its natural oils make it resistant to various insects, like bugs. It prevents the build-up of pests and termites. Aside from that, it is perfect if you or any of the people you are living with are suffering from allergies because its natural oil can kill spores and dust mites right away.
Not That Versatile
One possible downside of this flooring is its lack of versatility. It is because you can’t expect it to suit all rooms and spaces. For instance, while the dark color of this material is ideal for airy and large spaces, like living and dining rooms, you can’t expect it to suit small rooms with awkward corners, plenty of furniture and pillars.
It is not a secret that this material is an expensive type of hardwood. If you are on a budget then you may want to choose the engineered version of this material. You can expect this to have a similar feel and look as solid planks.
However, keep in mind that even the most reasonably priced engineered variety of this material is still pricier compared to some solid hardwood floors, like cherry, pine or oak.
Short History of Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Brazilian walnut is a type of hardwood cultivated and grown in Brazil, Guatemala, Venezuela, Bolivia and other neighboring South American countries. It tends to grow in rainforests with some concerns related to sustainable harvesting and production being addressed.
With its origin from Brazil, you can see this material being imported for several years. As a matter of fact, its fame rose significantly over the last decade. From the time it was introduced, there seems to be no stopping its popularity as it has premium quality and considered as one of the most aesthetically-pleasing and attractive types of hardwood available.
Types of Brazilian Walnut Flooring
This type is also called Brazilian cherry. It is famous for its extreme durability as well as its deep and rich reddish-brown shade.
You can often see this type being used in outer decking. It is because of its density that will remain the same even if you leave it untreated. Also called ironwood, this type boasts of rich brown color and extreme hardness. One downside, though, is that it is quite costly.
This type is one of the sturdiest varieties you can find today. The sturdiness can be attributed to the dense interlocking grain. It has a honey-like and gold-brown shade.
If you want the floor in your home to have a bit of drama then you can go for this specific species. It can grab attention because of its striking and bold stripes with a somewhat orange shade.
How to Choose the Best Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Picking the best flooring requires you to consider some important factors. These include:
It would be a great idea to check the color variations available for the material. Note that in most cases, this type of wood comes with a rich, dark color. You can also find those with chocolate brown shades.
Other versions of this material have yellow and red colors. Find out which among these color variations specifically fit your home or the specific room you plan to install the flooring.
Examine the thickness you are thinking of buying. As much as possible, pick the thickest plank that suits your budget. This tip applies whether you are planning to buy engineered or solid wood. Go for thicker planks or boards as they are sturdier and more stable than the rest.
Find out how durable the Brazilian flooring is. Note that it also has different variations and you have to figure out the specific level of durability and resilience that the specific room where you intend to put it in needs. It should do a great job in fulfilling its promise of withstanding heavy use and abuse.
Heat and Sound
The ability of this flooring to insulate heat and sound is also a must, so you need to check this factor carefully when making your choice. In such a case, it is advisable to assess and scrutinize how thick the plank or board is. It is because the thickness also plays a huge role in insulating sound and heat.
Of course, it is also necessary to examine the material for its stability. You wouldn’t want to install a type of floor that will give up sooner than you initially anticipated, right? If you are after stability, then consider going for engineered planks.
It is because these are constructed by pressing together a few layers of hardwood. Another tip is to find planks with each layer facing or looking at opposite directions. It is because this can enhance stability.
Another factor you should keep in mind is the width, which usually ranges from 2 and ¾ inches to 8 inches. Also, every box containing the material has boards of different lengths. The usual range is around one to seven feet.
Decide on the specific width and length that your home specifically needs. Ensure that your choice allows the planks to be properly spaced in relation to the boards installed next to them.
Find out the available finish options provided by your chosen provider. One thing to remind yourself of is that the majority of this material use stain as its pre-finishing options. A sealer may also be used for this purpose or it can be used together with the chosen stain.
There will also be a strong aluminum oxide that will be coated on top to ensure that the finish can resist scratches. However, take note that you can also find sellers and providers that sell unfinished ones.
Check the texture of the flooring material, too. It is because this also has a say on its final price and overall quality. If you are on a budget then you may want to go for the more affordable smooth boards. However, if you can afford those varieties sold at a higher price then consider picking the hand-scraped IPE.
Solid vs Engineered
Your choice between solid and engineered versions will also depend on where you intend to install it. Go for the engineered version if you plan to put it on laundry rooms, cement and bathrooms. This variety is perfect for the mentioned areas because it will less likely crack or buckle in case of contraction and expansion caused by moisture.
The good news is that even in those areas that tend to get wet most of the time, solid flooring also seems to work great. It is because this material is moisture-resistant.
The only problem is that it has a higher price than the engineered type. Fortunately, you can also refinish it several times. It also tends to have a much lower lifetime price compared to the engineered flooring.
Spend time checking how hard the flooring material is. It is because its density or hardness contributes to its level of durability and ability to handle wear and tear. Even though it’s naturally hard, it is still necessary to compare all its varieties so you can choose the one that suits the intended application.
The price should also be one of the things you have to consider when shopping. You can get this material from home improvement stores. If you want to get estimates of the amount you will be spending then you can always visit and use the website of your chosen store.
Apart from the cost of the material, you also need to factor in the installation fee. Also, note that the finish can contribute to the final price. Pre-finished ones are usually more expensive. If you are on a budget, you can choose the unfinished boards that allow color customization by picking your preferred staining procedure.
Examine the warranty provided by your chosen manufacturer, too. Make sure that the lifetime warranty covers most, if not all, potential damage. It should cover surface damage, for instance. Do not buy the material from a certain manufacturer or provider unless you have already reviewed the coverage of the warranty it offers.
How to Install Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Instead of doing it on your own, it is advisable to hire the services of a licensed and experienced installer. It is because this material tends to expand and shrink due to humidity and some changes in temperature. To avoid issues when those scenarios happen, professional installation is advisable.
Note that if you do it on your own without experience, then it might lead to improperly set up and installed floors that might form gaps between each plank in the future because of expansion and contraction. Still, to give you an idea about how the installation process takes place, here are the most commonly undertaken steps:
Step 1 – Unpack the planks
After that, spread each one in the specific space where you plan to install it. This is to let it acclimate for 1-2 weeks. Use a meter to assess the level of moisture present in the subfloor and wood.
Avoid doing the installation if the result of the reading is at least 3%. Install a plastic-based or tar paper moisture barrier on the area’s subfloor before the actual installation.
Step 2 – Use cleats during the installation
Make sure that the installation is done with the tongue of each plank facing out. Drive the cleats through each board’s tongue so it will be attached to the subfloor.
Step 3 – Ensure that the cleat penetrates around one inch to the subfloor
Each cleat should also be around two inches spaced apart for around eight to ten inches.
Step 4 – Use face nails or glue the rows
You may also use face nails as a means of installing the first as well as the last rows of the material. Alternatively, you may glue the rows to the subfloor. Both of these options are effective.
Step 5 – Pre-drill holes for all the nails you plan to use
This is the step you should take if you plan to do the installation using face nails.
If you do not want to deal with the hassle and complications linked to the installation of this exotic flooring material then follow the advice of many to have the services of experts and professionals.
How to Clean Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Step 1 – Vacuum regularly
Vacuuming your stairs from top to bottom should not be the only thing that you have to do to keep your space or household clean. You also have to make it a habit to vacuum all the dirt. You may choose to use the best vacuum for long hair and other sources of dirt and mess or an upright or stick vacuum cleaner for this purpose.
Regularly vacuuming the floor is also essential in ensuring that the dirt from your shoes does not get pushed down to the woods. Make it a point to do the vacuuming prior to mopping. To make this step easier, you may also want to use a premium lightweight vacuum cleaner.
Step 2 – Mop
After vacuuming with a dependable, portable, mini carpet cleaner, you can start mopping the floor. What you should do is to put warm water in a bucket together with some dish liquid. It would be best to use a sponge mop for this purpose. Avoid using string mops as much as possible.
Spin mops are super-absorbent so they will also do a pretty good job in mopping. Note that you need to prevent too much water from sitting on the floor. It is because water stains might form if the floor accumulates too much moisture and water. Mop it and allow it to dry completely.
Step 3 – Put a finish
Look for a finish that you can safely use on the flooring material. A great wood finish is essential in protecting your floor. To apply, squirt some of the finish on the floor. Get a mop then mop the finish evenly. Leave it on for an hour to let it dry.
Make sure that you let it dry within that period first before you start to walk on it again. The good thing about applying this finish is that it can protect the material from foot traffic and stains, repel water and let the wood’s natural grain come out.
You may also want to keep your floors clean by getting a dog food mat, especially if you have pets at home.
Brazilian Walnut Flooring Cost
The exceptional qualities and the somewhat unique and exotic nature of walnut flooring are among the major reasons why they are more expensive than the other materials. With that in mind, expect the price to go around $4-$9 for every square foot of flooring.
This does not usually include the cost of installation. It may look steep but expect the price to be worth it if you consider how long-lasting it is. It can last longer than other less expensive flooring materials.
Top Brazilian Walnut Flooring Brands
If you want to gain access to the largest Brazilian walnut or IPE flooring selection in the US then you might want to check out Hurst Hardwoods. It offers engineered, solid, pre-finished and unfinished varieties.
The good thing about all the products from this brand is that they are certified to be sustainably produced. They got the certification from the renowned National Wood Flooring Association.
Another amazing brand is Advantage Lumber, which is famous for having its own set of mills and molding machines. This is what the company uses to create tight-fitting floorboards from the raw version.
The machines also help make the width of each board uniform. It creates solid wood planks of varying grades that fall under both finished and unfinished varieties.
The flooring from this brand was harvested and milled in South America. It is then sold on a wholesale basis to huge retailers. You can get both engineered and solid flooring from this brand. The retail price for the engineered version is around $6.15 for every square foot and the solid version is around $10 to $14.50 for every square foot.
Brazilian Direct is also another company where you can access affordable exotic hardwoods, including the Brazilian walnut. One advantage of this brand is that it gets its products from sustainable sources. It also applies a full customer-center approach when doing its business.
This company also has raw Brazilian walnut timber available for sale, which is great for unique statement furniture that is compatible with hardwood floors.
The Plank Company
You can also buy your floor from The Plank Company, which focuses on creating and offering hardwood floors that you can easily install even with radiant heating systems around. The floors offered by this company underwent strict testing just to guarantee their safety before putting them up for sale.
Furthermore, The Plank Company also offers hardwood timber. The products in this company are high in quality but not the perfect option for picky customers because they have a somewhat limited selection.
This trusted manufacturer of hardwood flooring provides two amazing collections – the World of Woods and Americana. Both of these collections boast of their classic look in various finishes and colors.
Some of the types of wood under the mentioned collections are mahogany, birch, hickory and oak. The floors offered by this company are also available in various finishes. However, these are only available in a single shade.
You can also choose from the wide range of choices for exotic hardwoods in both unfinished and finished forms offered by Pennington Hardwoods. One advantage of this brand is that it has a short delivery and shipping period. All their flooring and other hardwood species are also always in stock so you have an assurance that you can access them anytime.
Another great company is the County Floors. They offer this material in both engineered and solid hardwood varieties. The topmost layer is made of solid material, which you can refinish at least once based on how deep the scratches in the surfaces are.
Robinson Lumber Company
One thing that makes the Robinson Lumber Company a trusted source is that it has its own mills. It also imports its products to the US. One thing you can expect from this brand is that its IPE is manufactured in three-fourth inches. You can also gain access to its unfinished and finished planks that are around 2 and ¾ to 6 inches wide.
IPE Woods USA
The last but not least provider is the IPE Woods USA. Apart from the mentioned flooring materials, you can also gain access to a wide range of decking materials here. It has competitive prices for the planks – often ranging from $6 to $7 for every square foot.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
It is no longer a secret that the installation of Brazilian walnut flooring to any part of your home requires spending a significant amount. It is because the material plus the installation and other fees cost higher than the others.
However, spending more on this flooring material is worth it as this also translates to better quality. You can even enjoy great returns from the total amount you will spend once you learn how long-lasting these products are.
Do’s and Don’ts With Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Understand Specific Care and Maintenance Guidelines
Familiarize yourself with the specific guidelines provided by your chosen provider or manufacturer. Just like when you pick a durable laminate for your living room, buying this walnut floor option also requires understanding all its care and maintenance instructions. Ask questions regarding this area to ensure that you will be able to take care of it properly.
Put Area Rugs
Such area rugs should be placed in specific areas or spots with heavy action or traffic, like the sink. This can protect it from daily use, abuse and wear and tear, thereby preventing dents and scratches as much as possible.
This is crucial once the flooring material starts showing signs of wear. It is a great way to restore its shine.
Put a Mat on the Front Door
Dirt might come from outside the house, especially when you or your guests rub dirty pairs of shoes inside. With the mat around, you can prevent chunky dust particles and mud from damaging your floor and causing it to lose its shine. It is because the mat will ensure that all the dirt will be removed before it even gets inside your home.
Don’t Let Spilled Liquid or Water Stay for Too Long on the Floor
Wipe it off right away to prevent it from seeping inside the joints. Note that once it seeps, the plank’s edges might expand.
Quick Tips for Buying Brazilian Walnut Flooring
- Make your choice out of the various quality grades – If you are after elegance then go for a higher-quality grade. However, if you prefer a more rustic and natural look then going for a lower grade in terms of quality will do.
First-grade floors often come with uniform shades while the lower-grade ones come with several knots and variations. It would be just a matter of which one can fit your preference.
- Choose engineered flooring for rooms prone to getting wet – Engineered flooring is a much better option than the solid when it comes to handling rooms vulnerable to being filled with water and moisture.
These include the kitchen, basement or bathroom. You can still use it in damp rooms but it can’t provide as much protection as what the engineered plank can offer.
- Pick the right size of plank – This is especially important if you intend to install the flooring in the kitchen. Note that Brazilian walnut flooring for kitchen can be budget-friendly provided you pick the right size.
If you have a big kitchen then go for longer planks, too. This will promote more uniformity. The fact that this material features a nice chocolate shade also makes it perfect for outdoor kitchens.
- Look for the right thickness – Choose planks that are thick enough as this plays a major role in its overall stability. Thicker planks can be expected to be more stable and sturdier than other materials.
- Check the certifications of certain manufacturers – If you want to choose green or eco-friendly products or want to make sure that your chosen flooring meets specific standards and criteria then you have to spend time assessing their certifications.
Among the things you can use to check their certifications and the harvesting methods or practices applied are GreenGuard, FloorScore and some other eco-agencies. Make sure that it is certified sustainable, too.
FAQ About Brazilian Walnut Flooring
Are Brazilian walnut floors hard?
Yes. In fact, it scored more than 3500 in the famous Janka hardness test. This high hardness score makes this type of wood one of the hardest worldwide. The fact that it is extremely hard also enhances the durability of the material.
Do walnut floors scratch easily?
No. The ability of the floors to avoid scratches can be attributed to it being extremely hard. This hardness also translates to its amazing density, which is a big help in preventing scratches and dents. This can, therefore, preserve the condition of the material for as long as possible.
Is walnut flooring durable?
Yes. The high level of durability is even one of its most striking traits. It is hard enough, which plays a major role in its durability and stability. It can resist a lot of things, like scratches, dents, fire, heat and moisture. With its proven durability, you can expect it to work well on high-traffic and outdoor areas.
Is Brazilian walnut the same as IPE?
Yes, IPE is another term used to refer to Brazilian walnut flooring. It is a resilient and dense wood sourced from South American and Central American forests.
Is Brazilian walnut or oak more expensive?
In most cases, yes. These materials are among the most expensive floors you can install in your home. The price will even go higher if you include the professional installation fees. Fortunately, this is one of the most durable and longest-lasting flooring materials, so it is surely worth its price.
Can you stain Brazilian walnut?
Brazilian walnut is famous for its great texture and color that often does not need to be stained. However, this does not necessarily mean you can’t stain it. In fact, there are instances when you need to use an oil-based stain as a means of sealing or tinting the material a bit. Pick your preferred color then wipe liberal amounts of it.
Once done, wiping it off should be the next step. Keep in mind that the curing time for oil stain usually takes around 72 hours. With that, follow the directions carefully and let it cure with the right amount of time.
Does walnut flooring change color?
Originally, the floor sports a dark-brown shade. After some time, though, you will notice this dark color lightening up a bit. Expect the most noticeable change in the shade to happen during the first several months after the installation.
Is Brazilian walnut harder than rosewood?
Yes. It has a high hardness rating, making it sturdier and harder than other flooring materials, like rosewood. It is also denser than rosewood.
What is the best sealant for Brazilian walnut?
One of the best ways to seal it is to use satin polyurethane as it is one of the most suitable sealants for it. You may also want to use either lacquer or varnish. There is also what we call as the glossy clear coating. However, note that this might have an impact on the natural beauty of walnut.
How to repair scratches on Brazilian walnut IPE floors?
If your floors incur scratches then you can repair them through various means, but first, observe the actual depth of the scratches. Those that are not that deep and often found on the surface are quick to cover. They do not need filling, too. However, for deep scratches, you need to do some work.
One thing that you can do to repair wide and deep scratches is to use a wood filler. Make sure your chosen filler perfectly suits the floor. Sand with the grain softly until you notice that the material becomes soft. Put on the wood filler then let it dry. Once it is completely dry, allow any excess that rests over and on the exteriors of the scratch to be sanded.
Vacuum or sweep away all dried fillers that were already sanded. This will prevent debris from scratching the floor when people walk on it. The last step is to put on wood finish into the affected spot.
Just like some brands and versions of Karndean vinyl plank flooring reviewed in many trusted sites and sources that continue receiving high satisfaction ratings, the Brazilian floor also earned the trust of many because of its many cool traits.
It is hard, durable and stable. It also showcases great aesthetics, so deciding to install it at home is probably one of the best things you can do to improve or enhance the overall structure.
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